How To Write A Book Description That Sells

Book Description Blog graphic

Drafting two or three sentences for your book description should be simple. You’ve put how many hours into planning, writing, and editing your book? Hundreds? Probably. You know this book inside and out. Writing a good book description should be the simplest thing.

Writing a book’s description is hard. Just like any product description, your blurb has to grab a potential buyer’s attention while being optimized for search and clearly defining what your book is about; all in the space of about 200 words.

Book Descriptions Are A Call To Action

In the marketing world, a call to action (CTA) is a statement that aims to drive action. Most of us think of the text on a button as a CTA.

An effective book description will draw in potential readers. The best book descriptions work much like a CTA; they seek to build an emotional connection with your target audience to drive them to take an action (buying your book). Because of this, you’ll want to rely on market research and data to craft a great book description that inspires people to buy.

Think about the audience you’re targeting with your book. If you’re promoting largely to a captive audience, then your marketing plan will focus on personalized and direct contact with your potential buyers. But if you’ll aim to grab people’s attention with advertising, like say on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll need broad appeal. 

How To Write A Book Description

Writing book descriptions is about enticing potential readers with key points, an author bio, and anything else that may resonate. You need to capture interest, connect any features or benefits of your book to your reader’s needs, and prove that your book is worth reading.

You need to think about search engines too. Your book blurb will be a big part of your product pages, so look for opportunities to work in relevant keywords. For non-fiction book descriptions, this is particularly important. Your book title and description will likely include some SEO keywords you can rank for. 

With that in mind, a well-written book description can be broken down into four parts:

  1. Hook – The opening line grabs the reader and nearly forces them to keep reading.
  2. Connection – For nonfiction, the connection should address a pain point the book aims to solve. For fiction, you’ll develop the main character’s problem or hint at the main plot.
  3. Escalation – Ramp up the importance, risk, or drama the problem represents. 
  4. Bait – Hint at how much more there is between the covers.

These points are just a guide. If you’re marketing to an audience already interested in your book, you might not push the hook (first line) so much and focus on the connection. The escalation is often irrelevant for nonfiction and can be replaced with credentials, social proof, or some other selling point.

Still, when writing your product description for your book, you’ll want to start from the same basic format. Let’s look at a couple of book description examples to see how these best practices are put to work.

Fiction Book Descriptions

The easiest way to start is to write four sentences, one for each of the bullet points; Hook, Connection, Escalation, and Bait. 

Next, shop around this mini-description with your friends and fellow writers. Ask them to read it and see if they can guess what your book is about. And would they want to read this book?

Now you’ve got to massage this book description outline into something a little longer. Keep the comments from your friends in mind as you develop a proper book description. 

Finally, you need to get the feedback of beta readers: ask them to give the description a look and weigh in. Is it true to the story? Does it highlight the major points in the plot and characters? Is it enticing?

Do more editing and, as the last step, craft an updated hook sentence. It’s important to come back to the hook once you’ve got the rest of the description written—otherwise, you risk ‘hooking’ them and not delivering with your escalation and bait.

Book description from "The City and The City" breaking down the description elements

Nonfiction Book Descriptions

Where a fiction book description is creative and enticing, a nonfiction book description should be utilitarian. I still recommend starting with four sentences to form a short paragraph version of your description.

But the framework you create will focus on a problem and your solution. At their core, nonfiction books in one way or another address a problem. Your description must outline that problem and your unique approach to it.

When you ask for input on your book description outline, specifically ask your friends and fellow writers to identify the problem you’re solving. If they aren’t able to, you’ll need to rework the outline. 

Then follow the same plan; expand the outline into a complete description. Go through a couple of iterations and reviews from beta readers before finalizing. And don’t be afraid to add some of your qualifications to support your expertise.

Blurb from the book "The Body" with the book description elements broken out

Should I Use A Book Description Generator?

No. There isn’t an AI in the world that can match your ability to understand and relate your story. 

What you can do is use search marketing tools like Moz or SEMRush. These tools will help you find keywords people use to search online. Those keywords will give you a good indication of what people are looking for; use that to meet their needs and expectations when you draft your description.

Your Book Description And Search Engine Optimization

Some basic keyword research goes a long way toward informing the questions readers are asking. Your product titles and descriptions are important meta tags for search engines too. 

Don’t get overwhelmed or focus on writing for Google bots though. Your book description needs to appeal to people first. But you should look for opportunities to work in long tail keywords (particularly important for nonfiction books). 

Your book description is also your product description—think about how it will appeal to potential readers on the back cover, your web pages, and on search engine results pages. 

Don’t Neglect Your Book Description

It’s that simple. You can’t neglect your book description. It’s a vital sales pitch for your book. And it’s the one piece of copy that you can put in front of potential readers to drive their interest in the book.

The more iterations and time you spend editing those few sentences, the better your chances of convincing new readers and driving traffic to your website.

Paul H, Content Marketing Manager

Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Want to share your thoughts?x